Another day, another stakes victory for trainer Bob Baffert.
Baffert, who sent out Life Is Good for a scintillating victory in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes, saddled Beautiful Gift in Sunday’s $100,000 Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita and watched her nail Moraz at the wire in an important prep for the Santa Anita Oaks on April 3.
Beautiful Gift, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, was forced to check at the quarter pole, allowing Moraz to open a 2 1/2-length lead about a sixteenth of a mile from home, but the winner, under urging from jockey John Velazquez, closed strongly for the victory.
Sent postward as the 3-1 third choice behind one of Baffert’s other two entrants, Kalypso (3-5), and Moraz (2-1), Beautiful Gift ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.83 and picked up 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks on April 30.
It didn’t compare to Life Is Good’s impressive clocking of 1:42.18 for the 1 1/16 miles of the San Felipe, but it was good enough to get her connections thinking about the big races ahead for 3-year-old fillies.
“I didn’t think Johnny was going to get there and all of a sudden that mare kicked in,” Baffert said. “She’s (Beautiful Gift) really (good). We gave her some time. She got really light on us. The further the better for her.”Which is good news for the filly’s camp as the Kentucky Oaks, presumably the ultimate goal, is a bit longer at 1 1/8 miles.
Beautiful Gift had not raced since a maiden victory at 1 mile on Oct. 23 at Santa Anita. Owned and bred by her owner, Baoma Corp., she raised her career bankroll to $99,600 with the $60,000 first-place check.
“I didn’t think she got there until I saw the super slow mo, but I’m just happy that they ran well,” Baffert said. “Heels Up (last in the four-horse field at 16-1) really can’t go that far. We’re gonna keep her one turn.
“It’s nice to get these fillies. It’s all I have for the Oaks, so it’s fun.”
Kalypso had the early lead through leisurely fractions of 23.95, 48.13 and 1:12.69 under Joel Rosario before giving way to Moraz, who in turn gave it up in the final jumps to Beautiful Gift, giving Baffert his record sixth Santa Ysabel victory.
Velazquez explained the trouble at the quarter pole.
“Bob’s other horse (Kalypso) was beaten and Michael’s (trainer Michael McCarthy’s Moraz) was to the outside with (Umberto) Rispoli,” he said. “I thought that was the horse to beat so I wanted to keep it as close as I could so she wouldn’t have too much to make up to the wire.
“I had to steady a little at the quarter pole and it took me a little more time to get her to the outside. She was full of run … I had to take a hold of her, but she was able to overcome it. By the time I got her to the outside, I got her rolling and I was hoping she would get there before the wire, and she did.”
Did he think he got up in time?
“I thought (I got it),” Velazquez said. “I wasn’t sure, don’t get me wrong, because Joel asked me galloping out, ‘You think you got it?’ I said, ‘I think so man, but that was tight.’”
Baffert was concerned before the race whether Kalypso could get the distance.
“The distance has always been a little suspect,” he said. “But the other filly (Moraz) stayed right on top of her and didn’t let her get away.”
Overall, not a bad weekend for Baffert, who figures to be mighty busy the next few months after earning his eighth and ninth stakes wins of the meet and taking a 21-20 lead over Peter Miller in the trainer standings.
The post Baffert’s Beautiful Gift wins Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita appeared first on 247 News Around The World.